I was born in 1957 in a small town in Western Pennsylvania that had - and still has - one traffic light. There wasn't a whole lot to do there, and we had few neighbors, so I learned to play quite a bit of make-believe - soldiers, cowboys and Indians, that kind of thing. At the same time, I loved to read and watch old movies. On Saturdays, my dad played in a country western band, and I stayed up to wait for him. It was during that stretch that I discovered the horror movie. You know the ones I mean. Karloff, Chaney, Lee. The masters, right?
Fast forward 40 years. I'm now the project manager for a small civil engineering firm in picturesque Charleston, South Carolina with my lovely wife and four rescue pets, two dogs, two cats. Oh - and eight feral cats outside that put up with us because we give them two squares a day.
Anyway, since childhood, I've loved to create. I played trumpet, sang, even dabbled in genealogy. Nothing quite did it for me. Over the years, I'd composed quite a few term papers and theses (there are a few ex-teenagers in this world who owe their English grades to yours truly), and unfailingly earned an "A". My wife knew this, and one day just suggested that I try writing.
What the hey, I thought. So I sat down and found a writing site called Hubpages. Nice little site, and I started getting the basics of writing a little from some of the inhabitants. I wrote a short story, and everyone liked it. So, I wrote another one. Except it kept growing, and I kept getting more ideas, and it lengthened to 20 thousand words, then 30, then 40. By the time I sat back, I had the rough draft of my first novel, except back then it was called "Werewolves and Flapjacks". Somewhere along the way I decided to submit my work (now called "The Clearing) to three publishers. I was turned down twice, and miraculously was accepted by the gentleman who gently rules this site, Mr. Tim Taylor. And the rest, as they say, is history. By the way, you need to like Tim...he's a great guy, and I owe him much, which can never be repaid.
So. The Clearing. I don't know where I came up with the idea. Some shred of one of those old delightful movies perhaps, superimposed on modern times. It just came, and I just typed - simple as that. I do know that I modeled the story's location after my little one-lighted home town. And every one of the characters in my book shares either a first or last name from my life in the sleepy burg of Apollo, Pa.
I do hope you decide to pick up my book. And if you do, I hope even more you enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, rejoice, because I'm working on the sequel!
Even though I make wise cracks about all of it, this is all like living a dream - and I don't plan on waking up for a very long time.
Thomas Rydder - writer